Welcome to the debut of the Socket, Unplug Nashville Newsletter. The Department of General Services (DGS) is excited to bring you quarterly updates on all of DGS’ sustainability “happenings.” In this issue, you’ll meet the team, learn more about DGS’ LEED portfolio, the Center of Responsible Energy (CORE) and other energy efficiency efforts DGS is pursuing to make Nashville a sustainability beacon in the South.
Welcome to Socket, Unplug Nashville’s newsletter, your update on the Department of General Services’ sustainability initiatives. In this issue, you’ll learn about Socket’s new employee workshops, Nashville’s updated greenhouse gas emissions inventory, and DGS’ portfolio of energy-efficient projects as well as meet our growing team. And don’t forget to check out our blogs and look for Socket, our mascot, as you are out and about this season!
Recently, Metro Water Services partnered with Metro General Services to place these “Drains to River” signs on storm drains throughout Metro’s Fulton Campus. Similar signs can be found on storm drains across Nashville to remind us that anything thrown on the ground – from trash to cigarette butts – can make its way into storm drains and then into the Cumberland, our source for drinking water.
Meet Jennifer Westerholm, Sustainability & Outreach Manager for DGS’ new Sustainability Division. Jennifer is responsible for the Department’s Socket, Unplug Nashville outreach and education program.
Jennifer’s experience includes federal government work for the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. as an energy efficiency analyst and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA as a climate change research fellow. Jennifer has worked with nonprofit organizations focused on justice, health, and the environment in Nashville and beyond, both as staff member and Board member. Most recently, she was the executive director of local nonprofit Urban Green Lab.
When Mayor Megan Barry signed the Compact of Mayors in 2015, Nashville became one of nearly 650 cities around the world to commit to provide evidence of local climate leadership and showcase the global significance of local actions. The Compact requires signatories to measure and disclose greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, formulate target emissions reduction goals, and implement an action plan to achieve those goals.
Nashville updated both the community scale and municipal greenhouse gas emissions inventories to fulfill the Compact of Mayors agreement by measuring and disclosing the data. The inventories detail greenhouse gas emissions both for the entire city and for Metro government alone. View a summary of the GHG reports here.
The data show a slight increase in overall emissions compared to 2011, which can be attributed to increased population and a richer dataset in this most recent analysis.
The data show that transportation and buildings (both commercial and residential) are the largest contributors to Nashville’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Jennifer Westerholm is the Sustainability and Outreach Manager for General Services' Division of Sustainability.
Her experience includes federal government work for the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. as an energy efficiency analyst and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia as a climate change research fellow. Jennifer has worked with nonprofit organizations focused on justice, health, and the environment in Nashville and beyond, both as staff member and Board member. Most recently, she was the executive director of Urban Green Lab, Nashville's nonprofit dedicated to improving wellbeing through sustainable living. She currently serves on the boards of directors of the League of Women Voters of Nashville and Greenways for Nashville.
Jennifer is a Nashville native and alumna of Metro Public Schools who graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College with honors in history. She holds a Master of Public Health in environmental health with honors from Emory University.
Despite efforts to reduce Nashville's greenhouse gas emissions in recent years, levels remain largely flat, and the city's rising traffic congestion and waste are main reasons why.
Nashville emitted 13.4 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2014, according to a new report issued Tuesday by Mayor Megan Barry's Livable Nashville Committee, equating to 20.14 metric tons per person. This is about on par with the national average of 19.15 tons.
Nashville's latest count is a slight uptick from the 13.2 million tons tallied in 2011, when Nashville's last greenhouse inventory was conducted, but slightly less than the 20.84 per-person rate of 2011. In 2005, Nashville's total greenhouse gas emissions equated to 26.17 metric tons.
Laurel Creech, assistant director of Metro General Services' division of sustainability, said some might feel discouraged to see the overall number go back up, but she said the inventory in 2014 included more data than the 2011 version. She also pointed to the city's rapid growth and development.
"Obviously you know that Nashville's has had a lot of growth, so transportation is a large contributor, waste is a large contributor and buildings is (sic) a large contributor," Creech.
The new emissions inventory, released before environmentalists gathered at the downtown library on Tuesday, is part of a lengthy report on improving sustainability in Nashville that includes 25 recommendations on a wide-rang of topics including mobility and transit, green buildings, waste reduction and natural resources.
Nashville is among a group of cities with a goal of reducing greenhouse emissions 80 percent by 2050. The regular inventory of emissions is required as part of Barry's participation in the Compact of Mayors network started by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to tackle environmental issues.
Any Longsworth, director of the Boston Green Ribbon Committee and keynote speaker at Tuesday's event, said cities are increasingly at the battlefront of environmental issues.
"It's also partly because they just don't have a choice," she said. "Because 50 percent of us live in cities now and by 2050, 80 percent will live in cities. And city leadership has to figure out a way to do that and have some kind of quality of life."
Metro officials and a consultant began its count of emissions this past October and concluded work in December. Gases include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane, among other gases. The year 2014 was used as a benchmark because the city lacked full data for 2015.
From 2011 to 2014, Nashville saw levels of emissions from commercial, industrial and residential energy, but emissions from transportation rose from 4.5 million metric tons to nearly 5 million, accounting for 37 percent of all emissions in Nashville in 2014. Emissions from solid waste more than doubled from 342,791 to 1.05 million.
Barry assembled the 35-member Livable Nashville Committee in May to "build upon the successes of former Mayor Karl Dean's Green Ribbon Committee. Barry's group divided work into five areas: natural resources, mobility, waste reduction and recycling, green buildings and climate and energy.
In addition to the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, the committee has also established goals of a 20 percent reduction by 2020 and 40 percent by 2040.
Recommendations also include ensuring that 40 percent of all Nashvillians are within 15 miles of transit access points; establishing an annual "Green State of Metro" mayoral address: implementing sustainability practices across Metro government; and encouraging current and future mayoral administration to dedicate staff to sustainability.
"This work offers an opportunity to not just advocate for a more livable city, but to authentically make progress toward it," Barry wrote in the report's preface.
Reach Joey Garrison at 615-259-8236 and on Twitter @Joeygarrison.
By following LEED® guidelines, General Services has achieved LEED® certification for 21 of its buildings.
It’s sustainability mission is to strive for LEED® certification for all future new and remodel construction and to significantly impact the efficiency of older facilities within the department’s care.
LEED® (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) requires that buildings meet strict criteria in the following six categories.
The criteria can be overwhelming to those new to the LEED® certification process, so we thought we’d break them down for you one by one.
This feature of the LEED® certification process requires that construction projects must reduce pollution by controlling soil erosion, waterway sedimentation and airborne dust generation. The goal is to minimize the construction and finished building’s impact on the natural surroundings.
Beginning with site selection and studying how the site affects its surroundings is one of the most important considerations in the facilities-to-environment relationship. LEED® directs facility managers, planners and designers to limit light pollution; retain or detain storm water runoff to lessen the strain on sewer systems; create more green space with native plants and trees to counteract the heat island effect; and provide access to public transit and alternative transportation, thereby reducing parking capacity needs.
Water efficiency is a key feature of LEED® certification, in that projects must work to limit water use. There are several ways to achieve this, including: plant species factor; irrigation efficiency, which can eliminate the use of potable water by capturing storm water runoff for landscape use; and high efficiency fixtures in restrooms and changing areas. To achieve certification, LEED® requires a minimum of 20 percent reduction in a building’s water use.
Energy & Atmosphere
To accomplish this step of the LEED® certification process, General Services must verify that the building’s energy-related systems are installed, calibrated and perform according to the owner’s project requirements, basis of design and construction documents. This will ensure reduced energy use, lower operating costs and reduce contractor call-backs. LEED® has guided General Services in measuring and verifying energy efficiency, using the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol.
Materials and Resources
To be LEED certified in this category, projects must facilitate the reduction of waste generated during construction and by building occupants, which is then hauled to and disposed of in landfills. To do this, General Services made recycling -- from paper and glass to cardboard and plastics -- an easy option for the building's occupants.
When viewing a building project through the scope of sustainability – its effect on people, the planet and the profitability for economies – there are three considerations to how material and resources are valued: production, transportation and the cost of the natural environment. LEED® suggests maximizing project values by the use of local and recycled material as much as possible and minimizing construction waste through recycling rather than dumping in landfills; reusing materials such as bricks, concrete and wood; and collecting recyclables like paper, plastic, glass and aluminum.
Indoor Environmental Quality
In order to achieve LEED® certification, a project must establish minimum indoor air quality (IAQ) performance. The use of low VOC paints, adhesives and carpets, as well as allowing individual control of aspects of their personal areas, all work together to ensure the overall comfort and well-being of the occupants.
Air conditioning for winter and summer requires the creation of a closed environment. In most common HVAC systems, that air is not exchanged for fresh air but actually recycled, allowing bacteria, viruses and offensive chemicals to dwell in the air we breathe. Closely monitoring indoor air allows for greater health and efficiency in buildings. Building designs that utilize natural daylight and operable windows are also ways to enhance the indoor environmental quality for occupants.
Innovation & Design Process
This area give those applying for LEED certification the change to go above and beyond the outlines requirements and to implement new and creative strategies. For example, LEED Platinum Fire Station 19 earned LEED Innovation Points for Exemplary Performance for On-Site Renewable Energy and use of Regional Materials.
LEED® includes a “regional priority” section that allows planners to adjust their program and get credits based on their area of the country. For example, a building in Nevada may receive more credit for water efficiency measures, and an area of suburban expansion may receive more credit for the reuse of an existing site.
Every project or capital improvement should be evaluated with the goal of achieving a significant level of sustainability. General Services understands and appreciates the responsibility that tax payers place with them. Serious consideration is always given to the impact that development will have many years ahead. This is why General Services invests in the beginning to assure continued savings and return deep into the future.
Still want to learn more? Visit the U.S. Green Building Council for more information.